Kopitar on track for Sunday return

Kings center Anze Kopitar knew immediately that something was wrong when he braced himself from a fall during last Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Staples Center.

“I think at first I thought it was actually a little bit worse because my whole arm went numb, but then it kind of got back,” he said. “It was just one of those really bad stingers I get. But the severity, it wasn’t that bad, I guess.”

The numbness “was gone pretty much right after,” according to Kopitar, though it was a startling injury for a player who entered the season having missed only 18 games during the first eight years of his NHL career. Of the seven non-lockout seasons he has participated in, the dynamic and durable center has participated in all 82 games five times.

“When I landed on the ice it’s kind of scary when your whole arm gets numb. It’s not a very great feeling,” he said. “I tried it a couple times after, I didn’t have a whole lot of power in me. It came back pretty quick, a couple days after. I felt like I had pretty good strength, but again I had to be a little bit cautious to not overdo it again.”

During Saturday’s practice, Kopitar wore the same color practice jersey as Marian Gaborik, Dustin Brown and Justin Williams. Though Gaborik said he is “very close” to returning, Kopitar is the more likely bet to draw into the lineup for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

“I’m planning on it unless there is something really drastic that happens,” he said. “But I don’t think I’m going to be doing anything this afternoon. Hopefully it stays that way and hopefully I feel like that tomorrow.”

The Kings, who have been outscored 11-4 during a five-game trip that has started with an 0-2-1 record, will welcome him with open arms. Though the team’s ability to direct play towards the attacking end hasn’t been an issue during five-on-five play on this road trip, the Kings’ leading scorer for seven straight seasons leads the team with a +17.2% Corsi percentage relative to his teammates.

“I think you always want to help your teammates. And times like this where you drop a couple in a row, you want to get back as quick as you can,” Kopitar said. “But there are guys in here that keep me in check and don’t make do anything stupid. That’s a good thing, obviously.

Anze Kopitar, on whether he has ramped up his practice routine gradually:
Yeah, I don’t think it’s anything different than anyone else that’s coming back. You just try to do more and more every day and see how it feels and hopefully not having a setbacks and it’s been going pretty well so far.

Kopitar, on whether he and Marian Gaborik ride stationary bikes while scratched:
Yeah, I was competing in the Tour de France.

Kopitar, on rehabbing with Marian Gaborik, whom he has built chemistry with:
It’s kind of hard to build chemistry when you’re the only two people on the ice. But you just try to work on different stuff and try to work on it individually a little bit more than when you’re in regular practice. It felt good.

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